There’s a lot of stuff I’m horrible at with life and money, but thankfully there are pockets of awesomeness here and there which help keep me at arm’s length from trouble. But only an arm’s length, mind you ;)
One of these things are habits. Stuff I do every single day to help me get closer to my goals. I’m not the greatest at tackling large scary projects, but I can rock 100 small things day in and day out without breaking a sweat. They’re not always the most exciting things to do in the world, but they eventually get you to the finish line if you stay on top of them (and even more so when you work on them during your peak performance!).
Here are a handful of the daily habits I’m currently doing:
- Write one blog post a day. I’m going on 6 years now and have never missed a day. My friend Nate likes to make fun of me for this as he’s one of those “only write when you have something important to say” type folks, but in that case I’d never have written any of the 2,031 articles here :) I’m sure I could stop for a day or two and no one would really notice, but then what stops me from going 3 days without writing, and then 4, and then a month? I take “breaks” once a week when you see guest posts here, but even those require me to both edit and write. The thing that keeps me going is rhythm and habit. I break it for a day and it all goes out the window.
- Email one person a day. This keeps me connected and growing my network. Some days I email people I already know and just do a nice little check in, and other times I reach out to those I’d *like* to get to know and do my best to start a conversation. There are tons of books and articles on this subject, but I just think of it as a small fun thing to do every day that literally takes a few seconds. And quite possibly they’re the best seconds of work I do that day. (This is on top of daily email responding/checking btw – that doesn’t count).
- Check my blood pressure once a day. Y’all already know about this, so no need to expand…
- Work out for 30 mins (or, 7 mins!) a day. Same here.
- Spend at least one hour a day on a passion project. It can be 2am and I’m wrapping up for the night, but if I haven’t put in that one hour of passion work yet I won’t be going to bed until it’s fulfilled. It’s the single best habit that got me from 9-5 to self-employment all those years ago (when Budgets Are Sexy was the passion project!), and I’m a firm believer in allocating some amount of time each and every day for things that are important to you. Right now that’s Rockstar Finance for me. (You’ll hear a lot of people waking up a couple hours early every day too to fit this in before they start their day – that works too!)
The rest of my day just becomes filler around that. At least in my head ;) There’s a ton of things we all have to do each day no matter what, but by focusing in on a few of those that are the *most important* to you, it can really help you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot. Even with something as simple as that daily email listed up there! I can work 10 hours straight and still feel like a failure if I haven’t been able to check that off my list as yet, haha… Perhaps that’s because I’m too hard on myself, or perhaps it’s because I want something MORE at the end of the day. Something that all these habits put together gets for me if I keep doing them day in and day out.
That’s the power of habits you create vs those you fall into (watching too much TV, getting lost on Facebook) – they’re built around your own positive goals! And the more you work on them, the less time you have to be wasted on things you could care less about.
[Quick note: I think having 5 habits a day could be a bit much, especially for those starting out. I prefer to have 2 or 3 max so it’s easier to remember and focus, but due to my hustling nature and impending health concerns I have upped the ante on myself… I plan on scaling back over due time.]
Also, notice there’s nothing up there relating directly to money. Money’s incredibly important, of course, but that’s the beauty of having a good handle on things – it doesn’t become a stresser! I still stay on top of everything and check my accounts routinely which I report back to y’all every month, but it’s not an immediate concern (thank goodness). And when it does become one, I’ll replace a habit up there with a financial one instead – nothing’s ever set in stone.
If you’re looking for financial habits today though, try some of these:
- Check your accounts every morning. I did this for years starting out to really grasp my overall picture, as well as to catch any errors or identity thieves out there. It would take me a handful of minutes because my accounts were spread out all over (which eventually annoyed me enough to condense!) but it was always worth the effort.
- Research one thing a day. It could be your car insurance, a credit card, a mortgage you’re thinking of getting, a utility bill, whatever. Take 10 or 15 minutes and see if there’s something you’re missing, or something you can improve on like an interest rate. Sometimes all it takes is a 5 min call to save hundreds – if not thousands! – of dollars over time!
- File something every day. There’s always something to file ;)
- Put a dollar in a jar. (Or a bank account)
- Track all your expenses for the day. Make a challenge out of it to REALLY get a sense for how much you’re spending day in and day out!
- Hold yourself back from buying one thing a day?
- Write down one thing you’re thankful for each day. Relating to money…. or not.
That should keep you busy for a while :) But the point, of course, is to keep you busy on the stuff that’s *important* to you – whatever that is. And to start forming these habits sooner than later to help speed you closer to your goals.
So think about it for a few this morning, and if any light bulbs go off please tell us about them! Or tell us about the ones you’ve already implemented and how those are going if you’d like :) I’m sure those reading would love to hear them.
3 quick tips before I leave you to it:
- Know yourself, and how you operate.
- Build your habits around these things you know!
- Ignore everyone around you :) Like your mom who wonders why you have to work past 5pm every day like a weirdo…
PS: Here are two productivity tricks I’ve just started trying too: 1) only checking my email when there are 10+ unread messages in it, and 2) using this pimp egg timer to time my tasks… If you’re interested, I’ll report back later with my success or lack there of ;)
[Photo cred: Wrote / Doodled on by J$, who wants that mug BAD]
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I love that email habit! Might have to steal that one from you.
Go for it, I’m sure I stole it from someone else :)
Dang! Missed being the first poster this morning since I was trying to get ready and go to work. Ha.. Liked this post and def liked the email one as stated previously.
Me thinks someone has also been reading and applying some of Tom Corley’s “Habits”. Hmm?
Me thinks someone is right ;)
Productivity is a grind, and I think people who would be considered highly productive operate very much as you do by breaking things into very small activities. I do. It works, but I don’t hold myself accountable on a daily basis for much of anything outside of my day job… because of my day job. I simply cannot plan my evenings because of this job… might be a eight hour day, might be a twelve hour day… the result is I try to be productive in the mornings before hand. Try being the word of choice there.
That’s understandable. I feel like if something’s super important to you though (that’s related outside of your work) you’d find a way to make it happen. If not, it’s probably not that important.
LOL, love your #3 quick tip about ignoring everyone around you. I’ve had to work super hard at this over the past year. I need to find a passion project to spend time on. This is a huge one for me. Great post, J.
This is a great list! I need to practice the “write one blog post everyday” task. Great daily finance tips too. I still check my accounts every morning for unauthorized charges so I can watch for them. I never thought about it as a daily task until now, but now it makes me feel more productive! lol Thanks for this article!
The “write one post a day” task only works if it gets you closer to a goal of yours. For many people it doesn’t, so I’d ask yourself what you’re reaching for first and then see if it makes sense to make it a daily task :) There’s nothing wrong with going 3x a week, or even 1x a week – the important thing (for me, at least) is sticking to a *schedule*.
I got through grad school on the “Know yourself, and how you operate” philosophy in a way that astonished (and ticked off…) several of my peers. I can’t remember how many times I heard “but I never see you in the library” or “shouldn’t you be studying” those years and then “you must just be really smart… lucky” when a grade would come back just fine.
No matter how many times I said “I know how I learn. I don’t do well in the library and studying 24/7. I’m just learning my way.” they still chalked it up to “really smart” and “luck.”
Pretty cool that the smart kids called me smart… little do they know it’s really “I know what works for ME” and not “I’m just wicked smaht.” :)
Haha… I hear that, man. I once got accused of “partying too much” by a friend who said the only way to get good grades was to study 24/7 similar to your story. When I asked him what he got the last semester though, it wasn’t even that great? I didn’t have the heart to tell him about my grades (a bit higher), but I did try to get him to relax a little and come out with me for a night just to see if that helped with anything, and he refused… Which was fine, I wasn’t trying to turn him into a “partyer” like me (hah!), but it was quite obvious that even his own method wasn’t working out too well for him. And he was too stubborn to a) admit it, and b) try fixing it…
Yep, I learn best by reading and doing on my own. So many classes skipped in college because I just don’t process auditory information well. Lecture was mostly a giant waste of time. One class I showed up just for the 1st day, for midterms and the final and that was it. One classmate was pretty ticked when I pulled the high score on that first midterm!
Wowww, haha – you’ve got balls! Oddly enough I was the opposite of you – I found the more I went to class, the better I did. Especially as I was good at making my presence known and interacting, which I’m sure helped when the teacher was reviewing my stuff :)
I like your tip about only checking email when there are 10+ emails. I have the worst email habit!!!
Knowing yourself is huge. When I first starting blogging I would sit down and force myself to write at a certain time each day. many times, I wasn’t inspired at that time to write. I ended up wasting time. Now, I realize that if I’m not inspired, I will do other things that need to get done – reply to comments, comment on other blogs, etc. and then start writing when I feel inspired to do so, which still happens every day.
YUP! Perfect. Same here :) Sometimes I can pop out something real fast, and others I need to wait 10 hours into the day until I’m ready, haha… I wish it could be like clockwork, but we do what we can, right? The important thing is that we *know* what we have to do, and we make sure it’s done by the time we hit that pillow.
I wish I could also write one blog post a day. That could really help me on my blog. Anyways, that’s a very nice list J and a nice looking egg timer too! :)
What do they say after you do something for 21 day it becomes a habit? I get tons of work e-mail a day one tip I find that works for me it to close the notifier when I’m working on project so I’m not distracted by the incoming e-mails.
Yup, good one. Also disconnect the internet if you can, or hop on a diff. computer to help “separate” yourself from the world. Which is a lot easier to say than to do :)
It’s good to know you get your passion projects off the ground successfully with one hour a day as that is roughly how much I’m managing to put into my blog currently. (As well as a full time job obviously… I’m not a slacker!) :)
Well, one hour a day doesn’t help *grow* it at all unfortunately, so I usually spend more like 2 or 3/day, but the very *least* I force myself to do is a 1 hour bare minimum. It makes things not as scary :)
Ha ha, well cheers for bursting my bubble man! ;)
Impressive on writing a post a day. I can write 10 then nothing for a month. Overall my sites pump more than 5 posts a week but I don’t think I could write them with your regularity. And when I travel I love to have a queue, then I go back to nothing and start the writing frenzy.
Writing a blog post once a day…that’s discipline and a great goal to shoot for! The big habit I want to focus on developing more this year is creating time in my schedule to reach out to other bloggers and get connected more on social media. And I think that’s a great tip to lay off checking email every five minutes. That’s been a great help to my increase in productivity.
Then you’d be perfect for the 1 email a day habit! It’s set up to do exactly that – interact and connect more with bloggers! Or anyone else that’s important to you (friends, family, business associates…)
I’d like to add to that list “make one phone call to someone important to me.” Seemingly in the blink of an eye it’s been a week since I’ve talked to my brother or parents. Gotta stay connected with my fam and friends!
That’s a good one too :) Last year I had a “pick up the phone after the first ring” policy no matter who was calling (with the theory that if you always answered the calls you didn’t have to schedule them later for a call back, and then forget!), but eventually I realized all it was doing was making the tasks I was on take longer and longer to complete. So I think your idea of making the 1 call yourself, when you’re ready to chat, is a better way to go. You’re able to give the person on the other end much more of your attention that way :)
I am actually doing something that is technically unproductive, but it is good for me. I am making a habit of not being connected when my son is awake. I enjoy spending the time with him and I feel that it is important.
That’s a great one – I need to learn how to do that too :) I’m good w/ staying off the iphone/computer 90% of the time, but it’s my *BRAIN* that has a hard time shutting off! It just wonders over to business/blogging/etc and just sidetracks the dickens outta me…
A post a day is unreal to me. I have no idea how you guys that do it have the time and energy. I was really proud of myself when I went to two a week. I agree with Matt that emailing a person a day is a really great strategy. Talk about networking skills! My current money habit is to write down every penny I spend. I’m not a strict “budgeter” — I’m more of the see how much you have after saving and expenses then do what you will with the remainder for the month. I’m also only accountable to myself. Anyway, I’ve found writing down every cent I spend is a great way for me to evaluate outflow and see if there are patterns I should plug up in order to have more to contribute to saving.
Awesome! No shame in that at all :) The worst that can happen is you get annoyed with yourself for writing all of them down and you start spending less! haha…
I’m working on developing an “Every Damn Day” list (name stolen from another blogger!). Most of mine though are about taking my vitamins and cleaning something :)
That works! It’s your Damn Day! (Ya see what I did there?)
I like the email habit! I need to form that one for myself. I’m shy – even online! – but I need to continue working on breaking out of my shell a bit more.
That’s the beauty of the email habit though – you’re behind the computer and can take your sweet time formulating the message! :)
This is fantastic info. I’m guilty of constantly checking my email – I like the idea of waiting until I get 10 unread emails. I also like the email one person a day habit. I’m guilty of not staying in touch w/everyone like I should, too. Facebook makes it easy to see what people are up to, but nothing compares to actually getting an email from someone asking how they’re doing.
I’m going to start incorporating some of the above on your list into my daily life. Thanks as always for the great info and tips!
Hey Melody! Glad to hear from ya – how’s the sailing going? :)
I’m really trying to create better habits, so they’re well no longer habitual and just part of the routine. I want to get to a point where I don’t think about daily exercise and I just do it. I need to get better at connecting with other bloggers too. There are a few I’m in contact with almost daily and others who I adore but for some reason don’t reach out or chat with them as much as I’d like, kinda like your blog haha.
That’s the thing with blogging/life – you can never stay on top of it all! So the 1 email/day helps you get *closer* every day and you don’t feel bad about who you haven’t visited or whatever – make a list of the people you need to connect with and cross them off one by one :)
I like the idea of creating one a day habits if you don’t have them. It seems like it would add more work, but I think having structure actually makes you more productive. And I am definitely stealing the email habit. I am typically a feast or famine emailer where I will send 4-5 one day and none the next.
I’m so awed that you have been writing one blog post a day for 6 years!!! Mad respect for that. I’m not really a blog “when you have something to important to say” blogger either, I just like to share my thoughts, relevant or not! :P Email one person a day is a very simple but thoughtful gesture. I might have to borrow that idea. :)
Daily habits are so important! I’m in the middle of implementing my own daily morning routine that integrates all the things I know I “should” be doing, to make sure I actually do them before I do anything else in the day. This includes: meditation, goal review, exercise, healthy food, and believe it or not, connecting with people (via email, blog comments, etc.)
I feel like it’s a lot of habits to implement at once, but at the same time, it’s all one habit: my morning routine. Seeing as I’ve only just started my self-employed career (yay!), I figured it was better to create the right habit from the outset than to let myself fall into sub-optimal ones.
I do like the email habit you’ve started, I might just have to steal that one! Thanks for the suggestion :)
Congrats on being self-employed! I hope you fall in love with it! (But don’t feel like it *has* to be perfect every single day, cuz it won’t be. Tons of cons to it just like a 9-5, but luckily there are many pros too :))
I like Grayson’s tip. I’ve been trying to NOT look at my iPhone or iPad when i’m with my son. He’s 14 months old and if he sees me using it, he wants it, not to mention the fact that he’ll get my screens all grimy!
I definitely check my Mint budget daily to make sure everything is in check.
Great way to keep yourself on track.
I know when I was trying to learn a language for work a few years ago the task seemed way too overwhelming until I just started committing 30 minutes a day to it, every day. And if the lesson was too hard and I had no idea what was happening, I’d just back up a few lessons and still do it for 30 minutes. Before I knew it, I actually knew what the heck my employees were all saying, which was pretty awesome.
I think you’re right too about when you take a break and how it just turns into never going back. Whenever I manage to actually work out regularly, I can skip a day here and there, but if it’s more than 3, it’s like pulling teeth to go back to the gym… and maybe I don’t for, oh, you know, a year and a half (on the plus side, the gym gives you giant discounts to come back if you do that).
Haha, yup – exactly. Kinda like those videos of those people who snap a picture of their face once a day. It turns into a 2-3 year project or whatever with a KICK-ASS product in the end, but you need the daily ritual of snapping the pic for 5 seconds in order to get it!
Here’s the original guy who did it:
Working on a passion project every day sounds like a great habit to start up, not only would that be enjoyable but you never know what you might be able to make of it. I really need to do this.
I check my bank account most days now and track spend which has helped me hugely. I could do with getting some sort of system going for blogging though. I’d like to spend more time writing but I end up googling and reading other blogs (which I also enjoy!).
Thanks for this tip! I really like the idea. I think I’ll set up a few “once per week” habits to help grow my blog, like commenting on a new-to-me blog.
That works! I add up new blogs every week on RockstarFinance.com too, so maybe that’ll make it easier for you?
My schedule is constantly in flux so I’m always adjusting day by day to what I need for that day. Habits that I have are usually in terms of morning wake up and winding down for the day and getting ready for bed. I usually end up doing things in the same order both morning and night so it helps me get ready for the day or calms me down to sleep!
Love both the lists! I’m trying to go unplugged for an hour a day…that’s my latest “daily habit”
Oh wow – I bet that feels GOOD!
Love that you have a timer! I would be lost without my timer. Oh who am I kidding, TIMERS. They really are a great way to remind yourself of tasks or keep on track with tasks.
Awesome post today J! I admire your 6-year streak beyond words. I write down every cent every day. Like someone said, I’m responsible for and to me so it’s a good habit. I’m going the opposite direction with one habit-just one small chocolate a day. So far so good and it’s helping with my running too. Who would have thought just one KISS could make a girl so happy?
Ahhhhhh you need to come over and take all MY kisses! I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and they tempt me every dang time I open up our pantry!
I have GOT to get on the one a day blog train. My goal has been to write 6 per week and I got there last week, but I’m already practically on day three of this week and haven’t written a thing. Getting the habit started is so hard!
Posting every day, or even 6 times a week, prob isn’t a good one for (since you’re having trouble hitting it). Maybe stick with an easier M,W,F routine? That way it’s MUCH more do-able, and then your audience knows when you’ll be posting too? And if you get any killer weeks like you did last week, you can save 3 for the following week by post-dating them. Then this week you’d be all nice and happy – and proud of yourself – vs the opposite! :)
Just creating the right habits is probably the secret to all of personal finance, and, like, life and stuff. I hadn’t realized what a streak you had going with daily posts. 6 years is impressive, friend.
I check my accounts in the money and my watch lists for certain investments. If something at any time hits my strike price I make sure I execute it. I am an avid reader whether it’s blogs or financial magazines I try to read at least an hour a day.
Reading is a great one. Anytime you see studies on millionaires and other super successful people, there’s always the theme of reading and learning intertwined.
I can’t believe you’ve written that many posts. I don’t check my blogroll every day and just thought you posted about every other day. MAN! That’s awesome. Keep it up, the contents always great (even the off the wall ones).
Did you have trouble keeping up with that pace when you were still working 9-5?
Sure did! I’d literally work till 2-3am every night and then wake back up at 6am to do it all over again – it was nuts. And eventually my wife (and body) told me to fix it. So I did – I went blogging full-time :)
I’d love to get a few weeks ahead myself. Not even 1 a day! I have trouble with the baby (~15 months old). I can’t do anything till she’s asleep and then I’d like to spend a little time with my wife. You did it right getting out of the 9-5 prior to having the baby!!
We’ll see what happens when #2 comes along this May :)
I admire your ability to write a blog post every day. That’s awesome!
I think it’s great you are finding time for a well balanced life – not just work work work. Looking forward to reading more about the passion project.
I’m trying! I need to improve quite a bit on it, but I’m definitely trying :)
My passion project is RockstarFinance.com – where I feature my favorite articles on money I find around – kinda like a big blogroll, but with pictures (similar to Pinterest). My hope is to spread the best stuff around even farther, and then introduce other great blogs out there doing awesome stuff as well. So far people are seeming to enjoy it!
Writing once a day would be a real challenge for me. Sometimes, it’s hard to write once a week! I think the hardest part is actually starting, though. Once I get into a groove, I can write multiple posts in one sitting!
It’s just about priorities, really. You wouldn’t skip an entire week of your job, would you? Even if you didn’t want to go or it was hard to get going? :)
You know what? I’m going to know myself and ignore everyone around me and their weird obsessive habit rituals. (1 + 3 = !2)
I work best in large blocks. Little things just feel like a waste of time until I can batch things together. I would rather paint an entire room than touch up one little square on a wall. I would rather sort and organize an entire bathroom cabinet than empty the dishwasher every day. Big scary project? Yes please! Once I get going on something, I’m very focused. In between activities is when I get wasted time.
In my house, my husband does day to day stuff like dishes and laundry. But if you need someone to tackle a big 6 hour project or spend 3 hours researching something or get the taxes done, I’m your girl. Just go away and don’t interrupt me while I’m thinking.
HAH! Love it! I bet you accomplish a loooot more than the average person too going that route. It’s a great quality to have!
There are pros and cons. The key phrase is “Once I get going on something”. I often have trouble with the getting started part, but I’ve figured out that the resistance to starting is generally related to set up time, both physical and mental. If I have to take half an hour to drag out a bunch of stuff and then another half an hour to remember what I’m doing, I had better be able to work on it long enough to make all that “worthwhile”. On the other hand, if I only have a few projects, it’s easy to remember what’s going on with each one and I can generally find room to leave them set up and ready to go. The downside, is that I don’t do very well with juggling a lot of projects at one time. With two or three projects set up and in progress, I can happily go all day. With multiple projects that I need to “get started on”, I can happily waste the entire day away and do nothing at all. I think I’m probably just really bad at switching tasks.
Great post! You are right that getting into good habits is so key, because they become automatic in future today. Currently I am trying to do that with flossing! Ha. I have always been bad about flossing, but I am trying to really get into a habit that sticks!
It takes a while, but you get used to it :) That was one of my daily habits I started 3 years ago on my last dental visit before this one I just did this month. It def. helps!
I am just starting my blogging journey, it’s great to get some tips from your article plus from the other commentators on how you schedule your writing. We are all mega busy, so I look forward to trying several things to check which one works for me, and concentrate on developing that as a habit.
Thanks for your tips!
I hope one or two of them stick! Or you find your own awesome habits over time that work. Just make sure you’re having FUN with the blog – congrats on starting :)
Creating blog posts is a fun habit. In fact many people taking this habit as their job and a source of income. This article really inspires people to try blogging not just for fun but for generating money also.